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Course Objectives

As much as possible, every element of this class—from lectures to assignments to exams—is designed to advance the following objectives:

  1. Help students critically assess their obligations as citizens in our constitutional system through understanding historical circumstances in which American independence was declared and in which American liberty was provided with an enduring constitutional form.
  2. Teach students the importance of social structure and rules in securing good outcomes from government and the economy.
  3. Teach students how American constitutionalism reflects a prudent regard for the corruption of human nature as well as an underlying respect for the sacred character of natural human rights, by exploring the relationships among the ideas of constitutionalism, human freedom, societal equality, and a well-functioning democracy.
  4. Make students aware of the economic dimension of constitutional liberty, including the contribution of economic freedom to both character and prosperity, the advantages and limitations of market mechanisms, and ongoing debates about the proper scope of government in relation to the economic sector.
  5. Enable students to recognize and to become intelligently conversant in distinctively LDS perspectives on the Constitution, generally to help them appreciate the political and social conditions of the Restoration.
  6. Familiarize students with later challenges to the early tradition of American constitutionalism, including consequent changes in the spirit and functioning of the Constitution from the Civil War through the New Deal and beyond.
  7. Give students a greater appreciation for the opportunities and challenges associated with civic engagement, in part by becoming actively involved in political or community-based activities related to issues they care about.

BYU Outcomes

These are the University-wide outcomes for this course:

  1. Understand the religious, historical, political and economic origins of the Constitution.
  2. Learn how the Constitution works.
  3. Apply your knowledge of the Constitution to analyze major historical, political and economic issues.
  4. Become a better informed, more active citizen.

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Course Materials

Required Film

A More Perfect Union. To access this film, open a web browser and go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsiPJDvV7gI. Make sure you are logged in to your BYU account with your Net Id and Password. The video should start to play.

If you are having trouble streaming the video, you can also access the film in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) on the 4th floor of the Harold B. Lee Library (HBLL) if you are near BYU campus. You can also purchase or stream the video from another provider (such as amazon.com).

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There are 15 lessons in this course as follows:

Lesson 1 Problem of Government
Lesson 2 City upon a Hill
Lesson 3 The English Legacy
Lesson 4 A Conflict of Interests/Founding of a Market Economy
Lesson 5 The American Revolution
Lesson 6 Designing Government
Midcourse Exam 1
Lesson 7 Starting the Engine of Government
Lesson 8 From Unity to Political Parties
Lesson 9 The Founding and Historical Change
Lesson 10 Empire of Liberty
Lesson 11 Finishing the Founding
Midcourse Exam 2
Lesson 12 The Rise of Government/Market Weaknesses
Lesson 13 America and the World
Lesson 14 Living with Judicial Review
Opinion paper due
Lesson 15 American's Founding Heritage
Application assignment portfolio due
Final Exam

Lesson Structure

Our goal for you as you go through this course is to help you understand the basic principles and concepts involved in the American founding and apply these principles and concepts to the societies you see around you. Many of these concepts are universal and can be used to understand not only the American founding but also the problems of government facing the United States today and those of other countries as well. Each lesson will follow the same format.

Reading Assignment

First, read the assigned reading of that lesson. As with all independent study, reading is the most efficient and important means of study. You will shortchange yourself if you try to get by without reading the assigned material or only reading it superficially. To be successful in this course, you must read the assigned material carefully.

Reading Quiz

Second, after completing the reading, you will take a quiz designed to test you on the reading. The results will be immediately available to you. The questions will not be graded, but it is a pass/fail quiz. You cannot move on to the next section of the lesson until you pass it with 100%, so please complete your reading.

Key Concepts and Main Points

Third, after the reading quiz, you will review a list of concepts and important points associated with this lesson. You will have the opportunity to view illustrations associated with these points. If you do not understand any of the listed concepts, go back to the reading for clarification or contact your teaching assistant for help.


Application Assignment

Fourth, you will then do the application assignment associated with this lesson in which you will apply one of the concepts of the lesson to a current issue or problem. The paper will be one page in length.

You will finish the assignment after every lesson. You can submit your paper electronically to the TA for review. The TA will provide feedback to make sure you understand the concept.

Note: The individual application assignments will not be graded until you submit all the papers electronically as the application assignment portfolio at the end of the course. See the “Application Assignment Portfolio” section for instructions on how to submit your application assignment portfolio.

Formatting and Submitting Your Assignments for Review

To creat and submit each paper electronically for review by the TA, follow these steps:

  1. Type your paper in a word-processing program (such as Microsoft Word).
  2. Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, AHTG100_EricaSousa_OpinionPaper.rtf.
  3. Click Save.
  4. Submit the file by clicking the Application Assignment Review by TA link.
  5. missing image
    Click the "Application Assignment Review by TA" link
    © BYU Independent Study
  6. Click Open.
  7. Click the Browse button, and then locate the file you wish to submit.
  8. When you are finished, click Submit. You will be asked if you are sure you want to submit this assignment.
  9. Click Yes. You will receive a message that tells you that you have successfully submitted your assignment.
  10. Click OK.

See the page “How to Complete the Application Assignment” under the Application Assignment Portfolio module for more instructions.

Lesson Quiz

Fifth, you will then take a quiz that tests your ability to apply the concepts and important points of the lesson to hypothetical situations. This is graded and worth 10 points. I will have explanations of what the answer is and why the other distractors are not correct. These quiz questions will be very similar to questions on the midcourse exams and the final exam for the course.

Opinion Paper

Finally, you are asked to write a public opinion paper similar to the types of opinion pieces that appear in newspapers on the editorial page. This paper should be no more than 750 words in length. The paper should take an issue that is currently under discussion at either the state or national level. You should support a particular position on the issue you choose. You are not graded on the position you take, but you are graded on how you use the concepts and analysis of this course to help you support your position. This public opinion paper must be turned in immediately after lesson 14.

Application Assignment Portfolio

Once you have completed all 15 application assignments and saved them in a single documentt, you are ready to submit them for grading.

  1. Click Open.
  2. Attach all of the relevant assignments by clicking the Browse button, and then locate the file you wish to submit.
  3. If you have additional files to add, click Add Attachment and use the Browse button to locate and upload the next file. Make sure you attach everything.
  4. When you are finished, click Submit. You will be asked if you are sure you want to submit this assignment.
  5. Click Yes. You will receive a message that tells you that you have successfully submitted your assignment.
  6. Click OK.

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There are three exams during the course—a midcourse exam after Lesson 6, another midcourse after Lesson 11, and a final exam at the end of the course that will cover all of the lessons.

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Your course grade is based on your cumulative performance on:

Lesson Quizzes 150 points
Midcourse Exam 1 100 points
Midcourse Exam 2 100 points
Final Exam 150 points
Application Assignment Portfolio 150 points
Opinion Paper 50 points
Total Points 700 points

Grading Scale

You may be wondering if we grade on a curve or an absolute standard. We have thousands of students who take American Heritage each year at BYU, so we generally know the levels of performance needed for the different grades. This grading scale has already been adjusted to those averages.

A 100-90 A- 89-87
B+ 86-84 B 83-81
B- 80-78 C+ 77-75
C 74-72 C- 71-69
D+ 68-66 D 65-63
D- 62-60 E (fail) 59 or below

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Getting Help

Your teaching assistant for this course is Kempton Cox. He can answer questions you may have, give you feedback on your assignments, and coordinate the grading for you for this course. He is a great resource!

Email any questions to kemptoncox@gmail.com.

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


15 computer-graded lesson quizzes, one instructor-graded 3-page opinion paper, and an instructor-graded application assignment portfolio; assignments may not be resubmitted.


3 proctored computer-graded exams (2 midcourse exams and one final exam), may not retake, must pass the final in order to pass the course. You must pass the final exam with a 60% or higher in order to pass the course.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514